Your name will arrive at a destination long before you do, so best make sure you have a good name, so the old adage goes.
I was reminded of this last year when I arrived in Beijing to facilitate a Crisis Management & Crisis Communication for Reputation Protection seminar at the Grand Millennium Hotel.
There were a number of delegates that had flown in from places as far as Hong Kong and when I asked the audience what brought them there, the delegates specifically replied. ‘My Reputation’
This just reminded me again of the importance of reputation in marketing & communication. But this subject also worried early authors and philosophers. Here are a few selected quotes worthwhile of thinking about:
“Early impressions are hard to eradicate from the mind. When once wool has been dyed purple, who can restore it to its previous whiteness.”–St. Jerome.
‘Regard your good name as the richest jewel you can possibly be possessed of – for credit is like fire; when once you have kindled it you may easily preserve it, but if you once extinguish it, you will find it an arduous task to rekindle it again. The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavour to be what you desire to appear.” (Socrates – 469 BC – 399 BC)’
Individuals sometimes forget that they themselves have a reputation- just like their organization. Countless studies show that Corporate Reputation is an organization’s biggest asset, yet most dangerous risk in the marketplace.
It is no different for a person. In fact depending on your chosen career, position and stature, it becomes your stock in trade and a lever for success. For consultants and professional service providers reputation is sacrosanct.
It boils down to three crucial elements:
1. Know-how (Your intellectual capital i.e. what you know);
2. A Network of contacts (Social Capital – who you know);
3. Your Reputation (Reputational Capital – who trusts you).
The key for any person who is interested to build their own reputation is to work on these 3 elements as part of their own career development plan.
Many years ago someone shared the concept of the 3 E’s with me. I think it is a Dale Carnegie concept that I am sure you will find valuable in the building of your reputation.
The Three E’s:
E – Earned the right. You can only address a person or a group if you have earned your “stripes” be it through qualifications, experience, and preparation. Doing research, reading and studying your chosen field adds to this. It is about what you know.
E – Be Enthusiastic. Will you buy from a salesman whose product does not generate enthusiasm in himself?.
E – Be Eager to share. Are you eager to share your knowledge, the gem or nugget of wisdom that you have with the person you are talking to or the audience?.
In my own life experience I have found the concept of the 3 E’s incredibly helpful. If you go to my personal profile at http://za.linkedin.com/in/deonbinneman and read the recommendations by other experts you will see how the three E’s have manifested themselves in my career and how they added to the 3 key elements of building a reputation.
The implications of these words is that reputation is something that needs constant work just like a gardener attending to his flower beds. Like as in gardening it does not take much for weeds to grow, pests to come and flowers to wilt.
Constant attention and vigilance is needed if you want to maintain and safeguard your reputation. Do you know what drives your reputation? Do you know what can add or subtract from that reputation?
In an area of instant information exchange, where new technologies support new ways of working and communicating, the task of managers is to develop good interpersonal skills and the ability to use new communications technology appropriately.
This use should include an understanding of the misuse and dangers inherent in social media. These days there are companies that for instance specialise in online reputation management — companies that attempt to remove damaging Web content for embarrassed clients.
Just as everyone was once promised 15 minutes of fame, each of us can now expect to have our own “WikiLeaks moment,” the CEO of The New York Times.
Social media expert and former dating columnist Julia Allison likens bad news on the Net like a digital tattoo. It’s like tattoo removal, Allison tells the Times. Although it is possible to erase, it’s expensive and painful and it may always leave some kind of mark.
This implies that companies and individuals need to be more organised and think strategically about the messages that they communicate, advertently or inadvertently. In today’s knowledge economy your reputation and name is your stock-in-trade. Manage it carefully.
Few people realize that every single day is a Reputation Building day. From the moment you get up till you go to sleep that night you are involved in things and activities that will either add or subtract from that reputation, as the following article illustrated.
This was shared years ago with me (unfortunately I do not know the original source) – An elderly carpenter was ready to retire. He told his employer-contractor of his plans to leave the house-building business and live a more leisurely life with his wife enjoying his extended family. He would miss the paycheck, but he needed to retire. They could get by.
The contractor was sorry to see his good worker go and asked if he could build just one more house as a personal favor. The carpenter said yes, but in time it was easy to see that his heart was not in his work. He resorted to shoddy workmanship and used inferior materials. It was an unfortunate way to end a dedicated career.
When the carpenter finished his work the employer came to inspect the house.
He handed the front-door key to the carpenter. "This is your house," he said, "my gift to you."
The carpenter was shocked! What a shame! If he had only known he was building his own house, he would have done it all so differently. So it is with us. We build our lives, a day at a time, often putting less than our best into the building. Then with a shock we realize we have to live in the house we have built. If we could do it over, we’d do it much differently. But we cannot go back.
You are the carpenter. Each day you hammer a nail, place a board, or erect a wall. Each day you work on your Reputation.
"Life is a do-it-yourself project," someone has said. Your attitudes and the choices you make today, build the "house" you live in tomorrow. Build your Reputation wisely.
We admire companies and this is reflected in our choices as consumers, investors and in other forms of business. But what about the managers that have influenced our own behaviours and performance? Our own reputation?
Many times we had no choice, but even then, they influenced us. Even if it was to never to be like them.
The following self-directed exercise will help you to reflect about those managers and mentors that shaped your own reputation.
- What gave them the reputation of being an excellent manager and/or mentor?
- What is that they did to earn that reputation?
Read through the following paragraph and then follow the necessary instructions.
‘’As all of us grow up and grow older, we have our own personal heroes and heroines – friends, teachers, coaches, idols and mentors. By their actions and their advice, they have influenced and inspired us. The people we admire give us courage and direction. They exemplified a positive reputation.
Take a moment to think about these special people. Perhaps it was a parent, a relative, a neighbour, a teacher, or an sports coach. Perhaps it was someone you did not know that well but who still had an influence on you.
How did they influence you to act in a more reputable manner and to be conscious of your own reputation?
Tell me how that person made a difference in your life and career. What were some of the qualities that made that person stand out from others around you?
What made them a reputable manager and person in your life and career?
Now answer the following questions:
- In remembering them, what do you see, hear or feel right now?
- How did those people affect your life right then?
- What did you admire most about these people?
- What is the most important contribution these people made to your life?
- How is your life affected right now by these people?
- List those qualities (Motivational attributes and characteristics) that made these people special for you.
Building a favourable reputation as a manager is a daily process of action. Becoming conscious of the impact and influence you have on others should become your own guiding beacon.
What will others say about you?